Review: The Girl from Bletchley Park by Kathleen McGurl
I'm delighted to share my review of The Girl from Bletchley Park by Kathleen McGurl.
My thanks go to Rachel's Random Resources and the author for a copy.
The Girl from Bletchley Park
Dual-Timeline Fiction / Historical Romantic Fiction
The Girl from Bletchley Park is an intriguing dual timeline story set in England in the present day, and the early 1940s. The two strands are highly engaging and keep your attention throughout.
In the contemporary part, we have Julia – a successful businesswoman, wife and mother of two teenage boys. But her success comes at a price. She has little time for her family, and with neither her husband nor the boys helping much with the household chores, she is a woman rushed off her feet 24/7. I seriously felt for her.
In the historical part, we discover Pamela's story who, as it turns out, is Julia's grandmother. Pamela is a genius at maths, due to go to Oxford to study, so when her name is put forward for a position at secretive Bletchley Park, she regards it as her chance to do her bit for the country. Like her brother, Geoff, who is training to become a pilot.
Pamela is a forward thinking young woman. She plans to use her intelligence to work, rather than setting up home straight after university, much to her mother's disappointment. She's very proud, though, when she joins the Wrens.
Pamela quickly settles in at Woburn Abbey, sharing a dormitory with other young women, and soon sets to work at Bletchley Park. Having to sign the Official Secrets’ Act, she knows it's more than just secretarial work they do – their excuse to anyone asking what they're doing. With the help of the creaking, but still perfectly working machines, they soon begin deciphering coded messages from German high command.
When Pamela meets Frank, the only gardener at Woburn who was exempted for his asthma, she finds herself falling in love. His easy-going attitude draws her in. But over the course of their courtship, she discovers another side of his character – and one that begins to gnaw at her. But are her suspicions right?
Meanwhile, Julia is struggling to combine her two lives, and her husband, Marc, leaves out no chance to remind her, even though he enjoys the money she brings in – more than his salary – and their nice, big home. But then, things start to unravel, first at work, then at home. Can Julia save her business and her home life?
Both stories in The Girl from Bletchley Park are full of twists and turns. Pamela's world also carries a constant sense of danger, as attacks could happen every day, whilst Julia's shows the pressure many women who juggle family life and a successful business or career in our present day.
Both women are strong characters, yet also dependent on others around them. Pamela's love interest seems secure, yet when her doubts creep in, she feels torn. I must admit I saw it coming when Frank was first described (a bit of a cliché, and a giveaway, in my view), but Pamela's hesitance in revealing her new-found knowledge is still believable.
Julia's husband, Marc, is a lazy sod! He sits in his comfortable nest, created through her hard work, and bullies her into doing all the chores too. I'd have thrown him out, but it's never that easy. I have actually seen this kind of relationship in my circle of friends, and the parallels are staggering. It likely happens quite often when the wife is more successful. Sadly. So Julia had all my sympathy.
When betrayal from an unexpected side hit her, her life as she knew it begins to unravel, and she has to make some tough decisions. I found the way she dealt with it very realistic. Such a shock knocks anyone, and I really felt for her.
However, I thought the end of Julia's story was a little too neat. Everything fell into place, quickly, which is not quite how things often work out. To me, it felt a little rushed, and way too easy.
Pamela's history also takes a turn, as she encounters danger far closer to home. I found the way she deals with the challenges thrown in her way realistic. And she had friends to support her.
The Girl from Bletchley Park is an intriguing novel, one that makes you read on. Both stories are compelling, and you want to know what happens next, even if you have an inkling.
A highly recommended read.
A country at war. A heartbreaking betrayal.
1942. Three years into the war, Pam turns down her hard-won place at Oxford University to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. There, she meets two young men, both keen to impress her, and Pam finds herself falling hard for one of them. But as the country’s future becomes more uncertain by the day, a tragic turn of events casts doubt on her choice – and Pam’s loyalty is pushed to its limits…
Present day. Julia is struggling to juggle her career, two children and a husband increasingly jealous of her success. Her brother presents her with the perfect distraction: forgotten photos of their grandmother as a young woman at Bletchley Park. Why did her grandmother never speak of her time there? The search for answers leads Julia to an incredible tale of betrayal and bravery – one that inspires some huge decisions of her own…
About the Author:
Kathleen lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day.
She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe.
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